BARBADOS: RNM conducting study on FTA
2 March 2006
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC):
THE BARBADOS-based Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM) says it is conducting a study to inform Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states of the merits of negotiating a Free Trade Area (FTA) with the United States.
RNM did not say how long the study would last, but said it had been mandated by CARICOM leaders at their summit in St. Lucia to undertake the project that comes against the backdrop of a number of developments in the hemisphere, notably the protracted impasse in Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) negotiations and the proliferation of bilateral negotiations between the United States and several FTAA participating countries.
"In the absence of a FTAA, an important consideration for CARICOM is how to lock in and improve benefits from the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (CBERA) and the Caribbean Basin Trade Promotion Act (CBTPA) in its future relations with the U.S.," the RNM said.
IMPORTANT TRADING PARTNER
"The U.S. is the most important trading partner overall for CARICOM, and by far its largest export market. Moreover, as CARICOM Secretariat data reveals, its importance for the region’s exports has been increasing from 34.4 per cent of total export values in 1997 to 44.1 per cent in 2002," it added.
RNM said in value terms, CARICOM exported US$3.6 billion worth of goods to the United States, while importing U.S. $5.5 billion worth of goods in 2002.
"CARICOM has, however, had a long-standing trade deficit position with the U.S.," it said.